Turner Sports announced three huge additions to its team Wednesday for coverage of the NHL beginning in the 2021-22 season.
Legendary NHL star "The Great One" Wayne Gretzky has signed a multiyear contract with Turner Sports to provide studio analysis during the regular season and Stanley Cup playoffs, while Kenny Albert and Eddie Olczyk will call the games on TNT and TBS.
Turner Sports announced last month that it reached a multiyear agreement with the NHL that will allow it to broadcast the Stanley Cup Final and other Stanley Cup playoff games, as well as 72 regular-season games per season.
Regarding his deal with Turner Sports, Gretzky said:
"I've long admired Turner Sports' coverage of the NBA, among other sports, and I'm thrilled to be joining the studio team in their inaugural NHL season. This is an exciting opportunity to share my experiences and perspectives on the game I will always cherish, while hopefully informing and entertaining fans along the way."
The 60-year-old Gretzky is widely regarded as the greatest hockey player of all time. His 894 career goals, 1,963 career assists and 2,857 career points are all NHL records by significant margins.
Gretzky spent 21 seasons in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers from 1979 to 1999.
In addition, Gretzky is a 15-time All-Star, four-time Stanley Cup winner, 10-time Art Ross Trophy winner as the NHL's leading scorer, nine-time Hart Trophy winner as league MVP and two-time Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP.
Gretzky moved to Missouri earlier this year with his wife, Janet, and in an interview with Joe Reedy of the Associated Press, he explained why he felt it was the right time to transition into a new phase of his post-playing career:
"We just felt like, after the passing of my dad and my youngest going to college this year, maybe this is a good time to move. We've kind of become empty nesters. Atlanta is an hour from Florida and an hour from St. Louis. So I guess the stars were aligned. We get to spend a lot of time with our family, and I get to do what I love to do, which is talk about hockey."
Gretzky also provided a preview of what fans can expect from him in terms of in-studio analysis, saying: "I'll be honest and forthright, but I'm not, by any means, controversial. And just so we're very clear, I'm going to be way more positive than I am negative. That's just my nature. You can still be critical without going over the edge."
While Gretzky is the marquee name, Albert and Olczyk are significant additions as well because of their experience and high level of credibility with calling NHL games.
Both Albert and Olczyk are making the move from NBC, which did not renew its rights deal with the NHL beyond this season.
In addition to calling games for the NHL on NBC, Albert is the lead play-by-play announcer for the New York Rangers and previously served in that role for the Washington Capitals. He is also an NFL announcer on Fox and has experience calling MLB and NBA games.
Referencing the opportunity to call games for Turner Sports, Albert said:
"Calling the NHL’s biggest games–including the Stanley Cup Final–has been a lifelong dream since I was five years old. I look forward to this tremendous opportunity with Turner Sports and can't wait for the puck to drop on the 2021-22 season! Becoming a teammate of 'The Great One' and sharing the broadcast booth with Eddie Olczyk–one of the best analysts in all of sports and a long-time friend and colleague of mine–is the icing on the cake!"
Like Gretzky, Olczyk is a former NHL star, playing for the Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, Rangers, Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins during his 16-year NHL career.
Olczyk won the Stanley Cup with the Rangers in 1994 and recorded 342 goals and 452 assists for 794 points in 1,031 regular-season games.
Along with being a longtime color commentator for the NHL on NBC, Olczyk has been the Blackhawks' color analyst since 2006.
Regarding his move to Turner Sports, Olczyk said:
"I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Turner Sports family and its coverage of the NHL. I'm equally thrilled to be on the same team with 'The Great One' for the first time in my career; that's just tremendously tremendous! Thanks to everyone at Turner Sports for all of their efforts in assembling this amazing team."
Fittingly, the trio of Gretzky, Albert and Olczyk will play a huge role in covering and calling some of the NHL's biggest events.
In addition to airing the Stanley Cup Final on TNT in 2023, 2025 and 2027, Turner Sports will be the broadcast home of the Winter Classic throughout its seven-year deal with the NHL.